The Circuit: Robots and the U.S. work force; Hulu off market; Microsoft on data collection

Robots come for the middle class: New economic research indicates that poor and middle-class Americans are the ones who find themselves out of work when companies use technology to replace workers, The Washington Post reported, and that the U.S. is falling behind when it come to educating more young people to get “jobs computers cannot do.”

In a report from MIT Professors Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee, the researchers blame automation for low job growth over the past decade, the report said. And more careers that once seemed out of reach of automation are now being threatened, the report said, such as the jobs of truck drivers that may be threatened by Google’s driverless car.

Hulu off the market: The online television Web site Hulu is off the market again, its owners said Friday, saying that they believe the best path for the service is to keep it under its current ownership structure.

The company is owned jointly by 21st Century Fox, NBCUniversal and the Walt Disney, and went up for sale this year. Now, the site’s owners said, they will invest $750 million in the site “in order to propel growth.”

Microsoft says it does not grant blanket access to data: Answering a Guardian article that reported Microsoft worked closely with U.S. officials at the Federal Bureau of Investigation and National Security Agency to access user information, the company said in a statement Thursday that it does not grant “blanket of direct access to SkyDrive, Outlook.com, Skype or any Microsoft product.”

But, the statement said, there are aspects of data collection programs that Microsoft officials “wish we could discuss more freely.” The company has asked the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to allow the firm more freedom to discuss its involvement in government data collection programs.

Sprint promises unlimited data for life: Sprint announced Thursday that it will now guarantee that its consumers can have unlimited wireless services for life, as part of a new “Sprint Unlimited Guarantee.” New and existing consumers who sign up for the plans are promised that they will be able to keep unlimited data plans for as long as they keep Sprint service. The plans, called “Unlimited, My Way” and “My All-in” start at $80 per month.

Cybersecurity bill: The Senate panel on commerce Thursday unveiled a bipartisan draft bill on cybersecurity, sponsored by Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.). Rockefeller, who serves as the committee’s chairman, expects that the bill will be marked up this month, The Hill reported.

The bill would put the responsibility of developing voluntary private-sector standards for companies that operate critical U.S. infrastructure, such as banks and utility providers to the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

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Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.

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